May 22, 1945
New York Times.
I am sorry to receive your letter of May 21 in which you reject my proposal that we should work together until the defeat of Japan is achieved and the job is finished. In this letter you tell me that our only course is to prolong the present coalition until a general election in October.
This would mean that from now until October outside the Government, and even within it, we should be continually preparing for an election.
We have already suffered several months of this electioneering atmosphere, which, I am sure, is already affecting administrative efficiency and might soon weaken the country before the world at a time when, above all others, it should be stronger.
I agree with what you say in your letter that it is on the problems of the reconstruction of the economic life of the country that party differences are most acute.
"What is required," you say, "is decisive action. This can only be forthcoming from a Government united on principle and policy."
I agree also with your statement that "my colleagues and I do not believe that it would be possible to lay aside political controversy now that the expectation of an election has engaged the attention of the country."
For my part, I am sure that a continuance of uncertainty and agitation would be harmful to the whole process-of the recovery of our trade and the changeover of industry.
It is not good for any country, and it is impossible for any coalition, to live for so long a time under the spell of an approaching general election. Least of all is this possible in a world where events are so tumultuous and dangerous as now.
Opinions are much divided as to how party advantage may lie between a July and an October election, and I regret the aspersions with which you have darkened this correspondence.
I have concerned myself solely with trying to create tolerable conditions under which we could work together. It is clear from the tone of your letter and the feelings of your party that these no longer exist and it is odd that you should accompany so many unjust allegations with an earnest request that we should go on bickering together till autumn.
Such a process would not be a decent way of carrying on a British Government.
I regret that you should speak of "rushing" an election. Foreseeing what might arise at the close of the German war, we discussed, as you will remember, the whole question of procedure in detail in the War Cabinet.
The normal period between a dissolution and the poll is seventeen days, and it was you and your colleagues who proposed that there should be at least a three weeks' additional interval, in view of the special circumstances prevailing.
We gladly accepted this reasonable request, and the unanimous decision of the Cabinet was made known by you on Jan. 17 when you announced in the House of Commons that the King had been graciously willing for this occasion to announce his intention to dissolve Parliament at least three weeks beforehand.